Whether donating 10,000 medical gloves to an area hospital, helping to disinfect Westfield police vehicles or setting up a social media fundraiser to buy grocery gift cards for families in need, the Westfield Public Schools community is pitching in to help during this public health crisis.

Custodial and maintenance crews from the district’s Department of Buildings and Grounds are working with the Town of Westfield’s Department of Public Works to disinfect municipal offices, police squad cars, fire stations and other town equipment and facilities.

“We also donated a case of nitrile medical gloves and a case of masks that we had in the school district,” says Sean McArthur, district supervisor of buildings and grounds. “I cannot tell you how much we appreciate what all of the Westfield emergency services are doing to keep us safe in the community on an everyday basis, but especially now in our time of crisis.”

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Having thoroughly disinfected the school buildings as well, the buildings and grounds staff also makes routine checks on the district’s buildings to ensure all is safe and well in the absence of a regular school day.

District Coordinator of Health Services Carole Stavitski and her nursing staff arranged for 100 boxes of medical gloves to be delivered to an area hospital. Stavitski had ordered the gloves and other supplies as the COVID-19 infection began to spread.  With most of these supplies in huge demand and backordered, only the gloves arrived.  The shipment was delivered to the high school on the last day before schools closed for remote learning. 

“With the help of Westfield High School head custodian Werner Wolf, Roosevelt Intermediate School nurse Sharon Dorry and her daughter were able to load their car and deliver 10,000 gloves to the hospital,” says Stavitski.

Robert Ripper, a member of the high school nursing team, is organizing a drive to collect extra thermometers in good working order to send to healthcare providers. Ripper asks families willing to donate an extra thermometer to seal it in a plastic bag and place the bag in a box outside of his home at 779 Hancock Street in Westfield.  His wife, who is an emergency room physician at a hospital in Newark, will disinfect the thermometers before distributing them to healthcare workers.

There are simple, uplifting gestures like elementary principals enlisting families to “brighten up our neighborhoods and our spirits” with the Rainbow Project which invited students to create a colorful rainbow and place it on a front door or window with the message “Everything is going to be OK!” And WHS math teacher Callie Campbell who had a daily classroom ritual of telling a math joke.

“Once we shifted to online learning, my students were still reaching out, asking for the daily joke,” says the Westfield native.

Campbell expanded the idea and now posts both a math joke and puzzle in the windows of her Westfield home for passersby. “I hope the math joke and puzzle bring a smile or chuckle to people in this time of uncertainty while also serving as a fun learning for people of all ages.”

The Westfield Parent Teacher Council (PTC) has set up a fundraiser on Facebook to assist local families in buying food and household items.   All money raised will be distributed in the form of local grocery store gift cards; families are asked to donate to this link: https://bit.ly/ptcfundraiserforfamilies. Please reach out with any questions to westfieldptc@gmail.com.

“There are so many unsung heroes in our school district, including staff members, students and families who put aside their own worries to extend a hand to others with greater responsibilities and concerns,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan. “Of course, our educators are everyday heroes as they work to provide not only meaningful remote instruction but to also connect with each of their students in a reassuring way during this isolating time.”

Dolan points to these examples as just a few of the ways the Westfield school community is helping the broader community.  “It is truly inspiring, but not surprising,” she adds.  “I am grateful for and proud of the resilience and kindness our entire school community has demonstrated during this trying time.”